One of the greatest benefits of technology is the convenience of being able to easily and quickly communicate without actually needed to do any physical, on-the-ground networking. Countless working hours have been saved, allowing for greater productivity in less time. But this is decidedly a double-edged sword.
First came the issue of diminishing returns. When telephones removed the necessity for face to face communications, they were viewed as a miracle – until workers started losing time dealing with phone calls. Then email replaced snail mail, and that had all of us drowning in our Inboxes, even after spam was summarily dealt with.
Finally, everyone realized that face-to-face communication is so important that the demand brought us internet based video. And while it still naturally falls short of being physically face-to-face, any visual communication is better than none at all. Here’s why:
Text simply leaves much greater room for misunderstanding than the clues we get from conversation with a person we can actually see. Mina Chang, Chief Executive Officer and President of Linking the World International, wrote in Forbes:
“After all, it’s easy to misinterpret a text or email. Especially for sensitive or otherwise important communication, having tone and body language for context makes a difference.”
No, unfortunately emojis are not enough.
It’s a lot harder to be truly nasty to people you are looking in the eye. It’s easier to keep discussions from sinking to the horrific levels of negativity found faceless interactions online. Kevin Chou, cofounder and CEO of multiplayer social game publisher Kabam, wrote for Fortune about a gaming conference panel he attended which remained civil despite the passionate differences of opinion in the gaming community.
“It was robust but civil. Excluded was the anonymous vitriol that often arises in online debates. At the end of the session, many of us spilled out into the corridor to continue debating, finishing with business card exchanges, handshakes and smiles.”
Yes, it can actually be more efficient to take the time to get together face-to-face. Bouncing ideas back and forth in real time can be amazingly productive, both for creative purposes and problem solving.
Everything you post online is the equivalent of an email blast. Everyone gets the same message. Seeing people face to face allows you to immediately tweak your message based on the feedback you get.
Probably most important of all, face-to-face connections simply cannot be beat for forming stronger relationships.
Two of the most important ways of retaining customers that competitors are trying to poach are:
- Stand out, and above, the competition
- Stay in touch
Face-to-face communication will accomplish both of these goals.
There is a connection inherent to visual conversations that written communication will never be able to equal. For businesses, relationships are the foundation upon which everything else is built. It is imperative to make an effort to meet employees, colleagues and customers face-to-face, if at all possible.
Tom Shaughnessy, Regional Business Sales Director at Sprint, once said:
“You can’t beat face-to-face meetings for opening the relationship or closing the decision.”
It’s so easy just to rely on all the various methods of communication available to us today, particularly the ones which don’t require us to show our faces. However, making the extra effort to connect with others in real life can reap extraordinary benefits, both personally and professionally.